Pubdate: Sat, 15 Apr 2017
Source: Standard Freeholder (Cornwall, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Author: Alan S. Hale
Page: A1
Referenced: Cannabis Act:


The federal government's long-awaited legislation to legalize the
recreational use of marijuana was finally tabled in the House of
Commons on Thursday.

The pair of bills layout the groundwork for how legal cannabis use
will be regulated and introduces a variety of new criminal offenses
for things such as driving while stoned and selling to minors. Much of
the fine details, such as how it will be sold and how old users will
have to be to purchase it, is being left up to individual provinces to

The reaction to the legislation in Cornwall was varied.

Those most excited are the people who use marijuana recreationally who
see a future where doing so will carry no legal penalty. The city 's
handful of existing marijuana businesses find themselves well
positioned to be part of an emerging industry projected to be worth
$22.6 billion a year.

Chris Dupuis is the owner of Showtime Apparel and E-Cig which, aside
from selling customized clothing and vaping supplies, does a brisk
business selling several different varieties of marijuana seeds to
people in Cornwall licensed to grow plants for medicinal use. Not
surprisingly, Dupuis believes the legalization of marijuana is the
right decision but says he is not blind to the potential negative
effects the change could bring.

"It's going to be a good thing," he said. "But there will be people
who will grow plants just for the high, and that will cause problems.
But at the same time, it's going to make things a lot easier for
people who use it for medicinal purposes."

According to the new bill, not only will Canadians be able to possess
up to 30 grams of marijuana, they will also be allowed to grow up to
four plants at home. This automatically means thousands of potential
new customers for Dupuis, and he plans to take advantage of it by
expanding his business. "Over the long-term, this will certainly
increase our sales," he confirmed. "I'll definitely keep my existing
businesses going, but I think I'll also open up a hydroponics shop so
I can sell all the growing equipment as well."

Local critics of the bills worry about the unintended consequences of
legalizing marijuana, whether the effects to health or public safety.

Although it took nearly a year-and-half since the election in the fall
of 2015 for the Liberal government to introduce the legislation, and
it won't come into effect until the summer of 2018, MP Guy Lauzon
believes the government is moving too fast on legalization. He argued
that the Liberals need to take all the time necessary to work out all
the details before the law goes into effect.

"I think the jury is still out on whether it is safe for young people
to use," he said. "Another thing that concerns me is motorists using

The bills will allow police to use saliva tests to determine if people
are high behind the wheel.

Dupuis said concerns about road safety are legitimate. As a seed
retailer, he knows that while there are strains of the plant that
focus on pain-relief that marijuana can provide, there are others
strains that have extremely large amounts of the chemical that
produces the high, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

While THC isn't dangerous on its own, strains with 35 per cent potency
(almost twice the average potency) are so strong, said Dupuis, you
would never want anyone who used it to go anywhere near the driver's

"I can definitely see how people using that would be just as though
they were drinking and driving," he said.

Lauzon says that the Conservative Party's position on marijuana is
that they agree with a recommendation made by the Canadian Association
of Chiefs of Police, that marijuana be decriminalized not legalized,
with officers writing tickets for possession.

This represents a major policy shift for the Conservatives from the
time they were in power. Then Prime Minister Stephen Harper was
vehemently opposed to legalization of the drug which he called
"infinitely worse" than alcohol.

MPP Jim McDonnell echoed many of the same concerns as his federal
counterpart, saying that the process of crafting the bill has not had
enough province involvement and there need to be discussions on how
all the costs will be paid for.

"We are waiting for those answers, because there are a lot of
additional costs," said McDonnell.

He also worries that without some kind of negotiated understanding
with the U.S. government, the new law could complicate international
travel at border crossing like the one in Cornwall. There have already
been cases where people who use marijuana legally in Canada have been
forbidden from entering the United States for admitting as much to
American border agents.

While conservative politicians are worried that the bill doesn't do
enough, others worry that the framework the bill proposes could be too

A customer at Showtime Apparel and E-Cig while the Standard-Freeholder
was there - who declined to give her name - added that she worried
that the legislation could overreach. If taxes force prices too high
or the age restrictions are too old, the black market the government
is hoping to destroy will remain.

"It will be just like the demand for illegal cigarettes," she warned.
"In the end, the situation could remain exactly how it is now when the
government gets its hands on things."
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MAP posted-by: Matt